Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mini-van to Yere-van: Armenia

Up at 7 a.m. in Batumi, ready to face the day! Planned to take a mini-bus to Tbilisi (capital of Georgia), and then either stay there or head straight to Yerevan (capital of Armenia), depending on the time. At 8 a.m. went to the only cafe open on a Sunday for breakfast nearby. Sat down, asked for something vegetarian, looked around and realized everyone in there was wasted. Tall, fresh beers and long, nasty cigarettes everywhere. Inhaled the food, along with a little of the general vileness in the air, and got the hell outta there. 

First sign on the mini-bus. Hmmm?

Our cramped little mini-bus arrived to Tbilisi around 3:30, so decided to just stay there for the night and stretch my legs a bit and relax. Had found a place online to stay if need be, so hopped a taxi there. Hostel Georgia was the name. By far the cheapest place in town, they were charging 5 euros a night for a bed plus a meal plus all you can drink wine! Wow... a dump. A real straight up dingy, dark, dump. But hey, *free wine*. Threw my stuff down and wandered, came upon the most bizarre market, was more like a huge family reunion picnic feel, everyone bbqing the meats that were for sale, people playing Arabian sounding music all over, people were giving me free food, no idea what that was all about! 

Next day went for mini-bus at 9 a.m. for Yerevan. It had left early (early? really?). Next one at 11. After waiting 2 hours, and holding down a "decent" seat, they told us we'd be moving to a smaller van that was already completely and totally packed to the brim with people and fruit. The two seats left were the two worsts ones in the way back, so I picked the least worst one and settled in. After 5 minutes the van stopped to pick up someone on the side of the road, and the driver was shouting at me to move into the worst seat, aka, the "fruit coffin". I stayed firm with my "no!" and then other people were telling me to move to the coffin seat too. "No, no, no!" I said. "Why me?" I knew the answer to the "why me" and that is because I'm a woman and the passenger getting in was a man. It's a man's world in this region, no doubt! They'd have to bury me alive in that fruit coffin cause there's no way I was moving. I waited 2.5 hours, he waited 5 minutes.

The man ended up resigning to the coffin, awkwardly sighing and shifting every minute or so, letting me know in his not so subtle way how annoyed he was. Too bad, so sad. We all had the next 6.5 hours of being hot, cramped and miserable until we finally got to the border of Armenia, which was a pretty gorgeous area - lush, green and mountainous, you walk on a bridge over a river to get to the border itself. Love border crossings like that, reminded me of Costa Rica. $10/US for the visa, simple. Arrived to Yerevan at 5:30 p.m., taxi to Hostel Envoy and just a few hours later the one and only Richard Pillar arrived! The reason I was in this crazy country to start with. He arrived lacking any luggage, not cause he's that much of a tramp (well, he is) but because Air France lost his things. That's what you get for taking a nice airline.

Next day at the Indian Embassy found out I needed a flight booked before procuring a visa. "Let's go see this treacherous hell hole" was Ritchie's response. Indeed we did. Some site seeing in Yerevan - a mix of totally dilapidated and seemingly modern.....but the progression is really only skin deep.

the fountains all over the place that apparently carry giardia

the yellow van to Yerevan

The Matenadaran - an ancient manuscript repository. Ol' Mashtots himself in front.

"what's up with it?"

made of ivory

love old maps

a little more giardi and the beautiful Cascade Complex that overlooks the city

The most famous sculptor of Colombia, Botero. Bizarre to see his big busted work here.

the artsy side

the dismal side

Republic Square

St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral

Love these wee little cars

Opera Square

What kind of a place is this? Fishing for cigs?? They're everywhere too.

Calumet, coolest bar in Yerevan

Between the 4 of us weirdos not sure who paid the massive tab, but it wasn't us.

the Blue Mosque

Have stayed in a million hostels - never one with a built in Bible

Metro (sexual)

Had some good ol' fashioned times in Yerevan, yeaaaah boi. Time for our running social commentary to make moves though, the world is vast.

"See the World. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask for no guarantees, ask for no securities." - Ray Bradbury


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